Terms of reference

On 25 October 1994, Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Major MP, announced the setting up of the Committee on Standards in Public Life with the following terms of reference:

‘To examine current concerns about standards of conduct of all holders of public office, including arrangements relating to financial and commercial activities, and make recommendations as to any changes in present arrangements which might be required to ensure the highest standards of propriety in public life.’

‘For these purposes, public office should include: Ministers, civil servants and advisers; Members of Parliament and UK Members of the European Parliament; Members and senior officers of all non-departmental public bodies and of national health service bodies; non-ministerial office holders; members and other senior officers of other bodies discharging publicly-funded functions; and elected members and senior officers of local authorities.’ (Hansard (HC) 25 October 1994, col 758)

On 12 November 1997 the terms of reference were extended by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Tony Blair MP: ‘To review issues in relation to the funding of political parties, and to make recommendations as to any changes in present arrangements’. (Hansard (HC) 12 November 1997, col 899)

On 5 February 2013 the terms of reference were clarified by the Government in two respects: ‘…in future the Committee should not inquire into matters relating to the devolved legislatures and governments except with the agreement of those bodies’ and ‘…the Committee’s remit to examine “standards of conduct of all holders of public office” [encompasses] all those involved in the delivery of public services, not solely those appointed or elected to public office.’ (Hansard (HC), 5 February 2013, Col 7WS)

The Committee’s terms of reference were further clarified in a House of Lords written Parliamentary Question on 28th February 2013 to explain that the Committee’s remit means it“can examine issues relating to the ethical standards of the delivery of public services by private and voluntary sector organisations, paid for by public funds, even where those delivering the services have not been appointed or elected to public office.” (Hansard Column WA347). You can view the Parliamentary Question answered by Lord Wallace on 28th February 2013.